Celebrating This Defective Beauty

  • By Blog Owner
  • 04 Oct, 2016

Mother nature gave us a beautiful defective tree that will live on forever in our home.

Originally, this tree was destined to just rot away. It really didn't serve a good purpose, its defect made it a terrible option for lumber because it would just crack and split. I had no idea Stan & Paul even cut this beauty down, but I understand their reasoning for doing so; this tree should not reproduce as it could pass on its unhealthy genetics. Makes sense. Stan explained this tree perfectly, "It is a result of genetic variation. The grain grew in a spiral or helix pattern rather than straight. It also has brashness or cracking instead of being totally solid. The ridges are its attempt to heal itself from the cracking. When we initially saw this tree I recommended just cutting it and leaving it to rot, since it wouldn't be good for traditional lumber. But then ‪Paul remembered it when we were looking for a large post for the stairs. After peeling some of the bark, we discovered more of the beauty. I am tempted to draw a parallel with human variations such as skin color or sexual orientation. Often our initial reaction is to shun whereas it is wiser to celebrate the beauty."
He explained this perfectly. Celebrating this beauty is exactly what we intend to do in our home forever. This tree will be the center of our rounded staircase. Removing the bark was a large chore in itself. The bark grew in the same spiral the tree had, which meant we had to turn the tree as we removed the bark in strips. It took hammers, pry bars and some brutal, relentless persuasion, but we got the job done!
While we were removing the bark, we noticed imperfections in the tree from bugs. After removing most of the bark, we found some of the bugs closer to the top. It ultimately adds more character to the tree, but I'm still curious to know what in the heck these bugs are?!?! Does anyone have any idea? If you do, PLEASE leave it in the comments, I really want to know! Thank you in advance!  
The tree is EXTREMELY heavy, so we had a crane come in to put it in place. We contemplated having like ten guys come over to put it in place... but we quickly realized that unless we had Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and a bunch of their strong friends, putting that tree in place by hand was not going to be an option. The breezy day made me very nervous about the possibility the tree was going to take out the rafters the guys had just finished constructing. Paul was giving directions from where the tree was supposed to be placed while Stan relayed them out the window to the crane operator. The tree swayed back and forth about two to three feet, narrowing the gap between the rafters exponentially. After some very careful navigation, the tree slid right between the rafters and was lowered into place. It was perfect! You can view the time lapse of the crane putting the tree in place below, but if you want to check out the full length time lapse, click here.  
This image below shows both the newly placed tree(closest) that will be in the center of our stairs, as well as the top of that same tree(background) that will go through our island in the kitchen. Please disregard the air compressor, I'm not allowed to move things around in the their work zone(for good reason too, I always remove things I don't want in the pictures as a good photographer should :D.) 
To check out all of the images of the tree & crane process,  click here . Now that the tree is in place, they can put in the rest of the plank flooring to get ready for the upstairs framing. Sadly, the roofing can't be done until December, but we will be ready for the roofers when they come. Continued support and shares are always appreciated, it really has been amazing. To me, this project is worth documenting. Be sure to like  my Facebook page  for continued progress on the home, as well as to support my small business which I'm growing here in St J.

Trace Elements Photography Blog

By Blog Owner 11 Jul, 2017
Ooh boy! What a crunch we have been on to get everything done in this house the past couple months! I know its been a while since I have updated, the guys both took the Winter off and our project hit a stand still... at least for a little bit. Things have been moving really quickly as of lately, a lot of the remaining work has been completed by contractors. With my persistence, they have remained (ALMOST completely) on schedule. 
By Blog Owner 02 Nov, 2016
Going through the archives of this kick@$$ couples special day, I couldn't help but crack a beer. NOT because it was stressful or anything along those lines, but because going through these wonderful memories makes me wish I was closer to crack a brewski with these awesome people for their second anniversary. Paul & Kate's special day took place on November 1st, 2014. TWO YEARS already! I still remember the details of their day like it was yesterday. Paul & Kate, this ones for you. 
By Blog Owner 25 Oct, 2016
To start- I want to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts and appreciation. If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog . If you are up to speed, I owe you an explanation of the plan with the home, probably should have given one earlier! Above, you can see we have extended the second floor out to match the first floor. This turned our bedroom into a 'Master' bedroom. We are also adding two bathrooms(on the right.) One will be for the kids, the other will be a master bathroom (!!!!!!!!! :D) 
By Blog Owner 04 Oct, 2016
Originally, this tree was destined to just rot away. It really didn't serve a good purpose, its defect made it a terrible option for lumber because it would just crack and split. I had no idea Stan & Paul even cut this beauty down, but I understand their reasoning for doing so; this tree should not reproduce as it could pass on its unhealthy genetics. Makes sense. Stan explained this tree perfectly, "It is a result of genetic variation. The grain grew in a spiral or helix pattern rather than straight. It also has brashness or cracking instead of being totally solid. The ridges are its attempt to heal itself from the cracking. When we initially saw this tree I recommended just cutting it and leaving it to rot, since it wouldn't be good for traditional lumber. But then ‪Paul remembered it when we were looking for a large post for the stairs. After peeling some of the bark, we discovered more of the beauty. I am tempted to draw a parallel with human variations such as skin color or sexual orientation. Often our initial reaction is to shun whereas it is wiser to celebrate the beauty."
By Blog Owner 27 Sep, 2016
Though these were both taken with my iPhone, they give you a pretty good idea of how the bottom floor will look when completed. These are called panoramic shots and they conveniently combine multiple images to create one larger scene. These images do our home's beauty a little more justice than multiple angles could. 
By Blog Owner 17 Sep, 2016
I'm going to start out with a huge- 'what a nightmare this was!' That's as honest as I can be about foundation issues. Ugh! Anyways, just wanted to throw a HUGE thank you to everyone out there who has shared this process or has commented with your kind thoughts, appreciation and even some design input. ;D If you are just joining our journey along this renovation project, be sure to start at the beginning to fully appreciate this home as much as we do. If you want to make sure you have read each step along the way, check out the full blog.   If you are up to speed, this is what we just finished around the good ol' St J home. 
By Blog Owner 07 Sep, 2016
Our wood burning pile is(hopefully) as large as it is going to get. The entire house has been stripped in preparation for the renovation. The walls inside revealed that some of our home was most likely built with recycled, burned wood. The burned wood holds a story that I would love to hear, but my intentions are to keep the burned wood in our walls. We are going to salvage as much of it as possible and use it on either our bathroom wall or entry way. As much as possible, I'm going to keep the character in this home. 
By Blog Owner 29 Aug, 2016
When we first moved in, we had to remove the old window in the upstairs bedroom to get our beds in the house because the stairway was far to narrow. We updated all of our windows last fall with more energy efficient windows. This proved to be a problem when we went to remove the beds for the renovation because the windows were slightly smaller. This forced our first cuts on the house to be removed from the stairway. When they removed the first chunk of wall from the stairway, the excitement began to kick in. I could visualize the open floor plan I had been imagining since we decided to start this project. The overwhelming sensation of this being only the first step to a massive project kicked in shortly there after. 
By Blog Owner 23 Aug, 2016
There was so much being removed from this house that we decided to get a dumpster. Our house has lath and plaster walls- they are extremely heavy and are weighing on the structure of the home. When we first moved into the home, we had no intentions of a complete renovation. Curiousity got the better of us though while we were trying to guess what might be under the terrible white ceiling tiles. Was there going to be big long beautiful posts and beams? or maybe we would be able to see the flooring for the upstairs bedroom? What was up there we wondered... Well, we decided to go ahead and rip it down to find out. It was nothing nice. There was more lath and plaster under the tiles. This too, had to go. It was a nightmare to remove- its extremely heavy, dusty and just happened to have absorbed a massive amount of rodent urine over the past 100 years or so. As we removed the lath and plaster, we were bombarded by rodent nests filled with disgusting fecal matter falling from the ceiling. Many trash cans full of this waste later, we finally exposed what was hiding under there- rodent chewed, ugly floor joists. That is when I decided that one day, we would remove all of the lath boards, plaster and most importantly to me- all of the rodent contamination.  
By Blog Owner 09 Aug, 2016
We decided to go with Hemlock trees for the posts and beams in the home. The amount of work invested in just one post or beam can be overwhelming, but Paul and Stan came through and pulled it off. Finding straight, healthy trees was the easy part, the property has plenty to offer. Proper planning is vital. Knowing what sizes and how many trees needed avoids unnecessary work. All together, our home needed fourteen posts and ten beams. To achieve this goal, they cut down about six trees. Once cut down and cleaned up, the trees were dragged down to the lumber mill by the Kubota tractor.
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